West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee on Thursday slammed suspended BJP spokesperson Nupur Sharma for her comments on the Prophet and demanded her immediate arrest.

She urged people protesting in Howrah over the issue not to inconvenience the commuters by blocking the roads. Protesters blocked National Highway 6 around 10:30 am and the protests continued till evening. Vehicles, ambulances, police vans, fire tenders and trucks were stuck in a traffic snarl which stretched for several kilometers. The chief minister, who was watching this traffic block from her state secretariat office at Nabanna, urged the protesters to lift the blockade.

Slamming Sharma, Banerjee said, “We all respect the Prophet. We respect all religions. Why are people protesting in Bengal? The incident did not happen in Bengal. They must go to Delhi and protest. We will take strong action if people here are inconvenienced.” Despite the chief minister’s requests, the protesters burnt tyres and blocked traffic for hours.

“Nupur Sharma’s comment is part of a conspiracy, a design to divert attention when the economy is suffering. The party is trying to create communal disturbance and political disaster in the country. It is my humble request to arrest those who created a dent on the country’s image. This is a bad portrayal to the world. The BJP controls the press and our country’s image has been shattered,” Banerjee said.

“I condemn the recent heinous and atrocious hatespeech remarks by a few BJP leaders, resulting in not only the spread of violence, but also division in the fabric of the country, leading to disturbance of peace and amity. The accused BJP leaders must be arrested immediately so that the unity of the country is not disturbed. I appeal to all my brothers and sisters from all castes, creed, religions, and communities to maintain peace in the larger interest, despite the provocation which we strongly condemn,” Banerjee commented.

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